Paladins are powerful warriors who combine martial prowess and divine magic to devastating effect.
Swearing an oath and devoting their lives to keeping it, Paladins temper their power with a strong set of principles.
While all Paladins may have some similarities, most of the Oaths are radically different from each other. Some Paladins may be sworn as noble defenders, while others aim to become champions of the gods or mighty conquerors.
But what is the best Paladin subclass? After all, if you're going to swear a holy oath, it only makes sense to choose a good one!
In this article, we rank each Paladin subclass in D&D 5e.
Although we will touch on the theme and style of each subcategory, it will have no effect on these rankings.
Instead, we focus on an apples-to-apples comparison. Specifically, we look at the mechanics of each subclass, the impact it has on gameplay, and how powerful it is in general situations.
Which Paladin subclass will take the #1 spot?
Table of Contents
Number 9 – Kroneed
The Crown Oath is sworn by the elite paladins sworn to protect their rulers and nation.
These Paladins favor a heavily defensive playstyle, which is reflected in their spells and attributes.
By rallying around them, Oath of the Crown Paladins can use their Channel Divinity to block enemies from leaving or heal any nearby allies.
By using their Divine Allegiance trait, these Paladins can take damage instead of their allies.
As for their spells, getting the very powerful Spirit Guardians spell is an extremely compelling reason to play an Oath of the Crown Paladin. Combined with their ability to zone and control the enemy's position, it can be devastating!
The main thing that brings down the crown paladin's oath at this point is the divine submission. He is pretty much the main draw in this subclass as a defender.
The function itself is not bad. It's just that Oath of Redemption Paladin came along, took the same move and made it better.
Oath of the Crown Paladin isn't necessarily a bad choice, but it takes last place in this ranking.
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Number 8 - Oath of Glory
Drawing on the theme and aesthetics of ancient Greek legends, we have the Paladin Oath of Glory.
The idea behind this subcategory is that those who swear this sacred oath dedicate themselves to mastering their body, mind and spirit. They know that one day the gods will call them on a great mission that will become legendary, and they want to be ready when that time comes.
As such, this subcategory focuses heavily on athleticism and momentum.Glory Paladins seek not only glory for themselves, but seek to raise others along with them.
Passing a temporary hit point to their ally after landing a divine blow and increasing the party's movement speed, Oath of Glory hits hard and fast.
There are only a few things that push Oath of Glory Paladin lower in this ranking.
Using their Channel Divinity to enhance their athletic prowess is exciting, but a bit more important in its application. If you have to jump over a gap or lift something incredibly heavy, it's useful, but it probably doesn't happen all the time.
Second, they have a spell list with a lot of good or decent options, but many of those spells require concentration. Since you're on the front lines, you basically have to do the Resilient (Constitution) feat for them to have any real impact.
Oath of Glory Paladin has one of my favorite themes on this list, but it suffers somewhat mechanically.
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Number 7 - Pledge of Allegiance
The Paladin Oath of Allegiance is perhaps the truest idea of what a Paladin is yet.
In the service of their deity, these warriors protect those around them and swear to stand against evil. They are light in the dark and act with honesty, courage and honor.
As holy warriors, Paladins of Devotion are particularly excellent at fighting undead and demons.In a campaign with many of these enemy types, the Devotion Paladin would rank much higher on the list.
Devotion Paladins can use their Channel Divinity to send undead and demons running for the hills with the Turn the Unholy option. They can also use the Sacred Weapon option of their Channel Divinity to add their Charisma modifier to attack rolls they make with their weapon.
Aura of Devotion makes them and nearby allies immune to charms, which can be incredibly useful. Meanwhile, their spell list offers some nice defensive features.
While Devotion Paladins specialize in dealing with unholy enemies like demons and undead, this also limits them a bit in this rank.
It's unreal how many times I've traded Oath of Glory back and forth with Paladin Oath of Allegiance for this article. However, Assassins and Undead tend to be common enough that you'll likely get a few extra moments to shine as a Devotion Paladin in almost any campaign.
With that in mind, Oath of Devotion Paladin ranks 7th on this ranking!
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Number 6 – Oath of the Observers
Speaking of more special type subclasses, Oath of the Watchers Paladin takes the 6th spot!
These Paladins are guards who stand against threats and beings outside the material realm.
Creatures such as aberrations, elementals, demons, and fey can cause untold damage simply by their presence. Even the Celestials are watched closely and with suspicion by the Paladin Watcher's Ed!
Between the spell list and the subclass features, it is very difficult to fool or otherwise confuse an Oath of the Watchers Paladin.Of the doctrines of their holy oath, vigilance is at the very top!
Driving creatures out of the plane back from where they came from and sending those creatures running (like with the Devotion Paladin's "Turn the Unholy" move) is firmly in the wheelhouse of these Paladins.
Against those who love mental tricks, the Watchers Paladin can fight their allies against mental shots.
Although Aura of the Sentinel, which gives Watchers Paladins and their allies a bonus on initiative rolls, is particularly awesome!
If a campaign contains a lot of extra-planar threats (like Mind Flayers, elementals, or fey/daemon invaders), Oath of the Watchers is at the top of the list.
But in a campaign that doesn't have many of these enemy types, it's not as engaging to play.
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Number 5 – Oath of Conquest
Conquering military power, the Oath of Conquest Paladin takes the 5th spot on this list.
True to their name, these Paladins are incredibly aggressive fighters who focus on completely destroying and subduing their enemies. They value strength and seek to strike fear into their enemies before they even draw their weapons.
Conquest Paladins have a strong spell list that suits what they do best.
The Armor of Agathys gives them a defensive power that also damages enemies. Spells like Spiritual Weapon increase their damage output, while abilities like Command and Dominate Person are used to cement their authority.
But where the Oath of Conquest Paladin excels is striking fear into the hearts of their enemies.
Using their spells or Channel Divinity, these Paladins can scare enemies like there's no tomorrow. Combining this with their Aura of Conquest renders enemies terrified and unable to move while taking automatic damage at the start of each turn.
Oath of Conquests don't really hit their stride until they hit level 9, but all bets are off when they do. But even before that, they are still aggressive forces.
If you're looking for an attack-oriented Paladin subclass with good battlefield control, Oath of Conquest might be for you!
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Number 4 – the oath
Those who break their vows and do not atone may be invited to darkness. If they succumb to this temptation, they become you.
Tucked away in the Dungeon Master's Guide, Oathbreaker Paladin is more for bad NPCs. However, it can be allowed as a player option, which is why it is on this list.
And what a choice it is!
Oathbreaker is a very powerful Paladin subclass. Their spells and traits are meant to keep their enemies locked down and helpless. By acquiring undead minions and giving them the aptly named Aura of Hate, Oathbreakers can easily ruin their enemies' day.
Similar to Conquest Paladin, there is a lot of focus here on scaring enemies and then punishing them quickly.
I won't lie, Oathbreaker Paladin makes a compelling case for joining the side of evil.
While an Oathbreaker doesn't really fit the vast majority of campaigns, it's impossible to deny how powerful it is.
Just be aware that Aura of Hate worships any demons or undead near you, whether you're a minion or not. If you're playing an Oathbreaker Paladin and you come across some of these enemies, you'll want to knock them down as they try to harm you!
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Number 3 – Promise of Redemption
All this talk of conquest and hatred and the dead really kills the atmosphere, doesn't it? Maybe it's time to relax a little.
Kicking back and relaxing at number 3, we have Oath of Redemption Paladin.
These Paladins are powerful defenders, healers and supports for their party.They take a sacred oath of peace, understanding and patience and are staunch pacifists.
Sanctuary, Counterspell, Resilient Sphere, and Wall of Force are just a few standout defensive spells in the Oath of Redemption Paladin's spell list.
Using their Channel Divinity, Redemption Paladins can gain a bonus to their Persuasion checks or cause enemies to take as much damage as they just dealt.
Although the defining move for the Redemption Paladin is the Guardian's Aura. It's a better version of Oath of the Crown's trait where Paladins can take damage instead of their nearby allies.
Once these Paladins level up, they will also gain a passive healing ability that works great with their Aura trait.
Mechanically, Oath of Redemption Paladin is an incredibly strong subclass choice. They have a clear role in the party, and they do it very well.
As for how to play a pacifist character in a game like D&D, that's another matter.
The pacifism thing is fine and all, but hard to do well in most D&D games. It definitely works best with a certain type of party in a certain type of campaign.
But when we're strictly talking about the mechanics and impact of the Paladin subclasses in this ranking, Oath of Redemption is the top 3!
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Number 2 – The Oath of the Old
Blooming at number 2 in this ranking, we have Oath of the Ancient Paladins.
Acting as a type of hybrid between the Paladin class and Druids or Rangers, these Paladins work tirelessly to preserve all that is good in the world. They may also be called Green Knights, Fae Knights, or Horned Knights due to their armor ornamentation.
The sacred oath these paladins swear is older than any mortal being could remember.
The Oath of the Ancients praises light as the force that enables growth and encourages kindness, joy and creation. However, it also encourages Paladins to do whatever it takes to stand against the darkness that would threaten this light.
These Paladins' spell list is very nature-based with inclusions like Ensnaring Strike, Speak with Animals, and Plant Growth. Although Misty Step is particularly special, both for engagement and release!
Oath of the Ancients Paladins are formidable melee fighters who also have access to many spells and attributes that allow them to better control the battlefield.
Their Aura of Warding is incredibly impressive if you're facing spells that love damage spells. Giving yourself and your allies resistance to spell damage means you'll be able to laugh off spells like Fireball.
Whether you're a new player or a D&D veteran, Oath of Ancients is incredibly accessible and impressive for any party!
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Number 1 - Oath of Vengeance
Sitting high on the #1 spot in this ranking, we finally come to the Oath of Vengeance Paladin.
While there are many good Paladin subclasses to choose from, this one just has to take the top spot. There is so much to love here!
As the name suggests, these Paladins are sworn to right the wrongs that have been done to themselves or others.
The spells in the Vengeance Paladin list are amazing. Misty Step provides some reliable moves, and Hunter's Mark can help you deal even more damage to anyone who has earned your wrath.
Although of course we can't forget how amazing the Haste spell is. The combination of haste with this oath's traits is simply terrifying.
But the real star of the Oath of Vengeance Paladin show is Vow of Enmity.
For 1 minute, Vow of Enmity grants you advantage on all attacks against your chosen creature.That's 10 rounds of benefit for all your attacks!
Used against a boss this could easily be called"Serve."
The rest of the Vengeance Paladin features are all about giving you even more attacks and mobility.
Oath of Vengeance Paladins start out incredibly strong and continue to get even stronger as they level up with no real pause in their growth. You are basically the Juggernaut.
When it comes to pure offensive power, it's hard to match the Oath of Vengeance Paladin. Not only is it the best Paladin subclass, but it is one of the strongest subclasses in all of D&D 5e!
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Conclusion – Ranking of each Paladin subclass in D&D 5e
But that's pretty much it for this ranking of every Paladin subclass in D&D 5e!
What do you think? Would you rank the subcategories differently? Let's discuss in the comments!
This was one of the hardest scores I've done. There really aren't any explicitly bad subclass choices for Paladins in D&D 5e. Depending on the type of campaign you're playing or your party dynamic, any of these can really shine.
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You can find itPledge of Allegiance,Oath of the Ancients, andOath of Vengeance PaladinsiPlayer's Handbook.
TheOath of ConquestandOath of Redemption Paladinsit's insideXanathar's Guide to Everything.
find itOath of loyaltyandOath of the Watchers PaladinsiTasha's cauldron of everything.
TheOath of the Paladin's Crownappears inSword Coast Adventurer's Guide.
You can find itEdsbryder Paladinnear the back of itDungeon Master's Guide.